Our incessant internal dialogue—all of the strategizing, defending, regurgitating and worrying that we do—covers our true nature. When you stop thought, you directly experience that you are made of light, Consciousness, God (you choose your favorite word).
Keeping the mind quiet won’t make you unconscious or an idiot. Rather you become wiser as you begin to see the vast wisdom that is at your core. You’ll find that you begin to understand things without having to think them through and that you have access to greater knowledge that isn’t available to you when your mind is a cyclone of thoughts and concerns.
But keeping your mind quiet is hard to do in our digital, socially-networked world, where we are constantly bombarded with information and never out of reach from…anyone! How do you do it? The answer is simple—you meditate. For instruction on how to meditate, download the free eBook on How to Meditate.
Many people interpret the expression “Follow your heart” to mean “Do whatever you feel like doing.” But what following your heart truly means is:
• NOT following society’s ideas of what you should do (duh)
• NOT following other people’s ideas for you—including parents, friends and colleagues (medium-duh)
• NOT following what your mind tells you (wait, really?)
Yes, really. Your mind has a lot of ideas about what you should do to follow your heart, but the mind doesn’t necessarily know what’s best for you.
Instead, following your heart means following your soul, which is your true heart. The deepest part of yourself is enlightened, is enlightenment itself and is super-duper wise. If you follow what your soul wants you’ll always be happy. If you follow other people’s ideas or your mind’s ideas of what you should do with your life, you will always feel off, not quite right and not quite at ease, even if you are outwardly successful. You will feel an undertone of depression or angst when you are not following your dharma, i.e., that which is spiritually correct for you.
So the challenge is how do you know what your soul wants? It’s simple, you meditate. You take time out daily to stop thought so you can feel your true heart. That’s all you have to do—why make it more complicated? A free guide on how to meditate can be found here.
Your mind is an amazing and essential tool, but it is not who you truly are. All the thoughts and ideas that run through our minds feel very close, like “us,” so it can certainly feel like our minds define who we are—but if you put your mind on “Pause” for a moment and stop your thoughts, you will find that there is still a presence there. You find that you are still there even when your mind is not thinking.
What is that presence that is still there when the mind is gone? I can tell you that it is your true self, the light and consciousness that make up everything and everyone. But it’s not very transformative to read that. What’s powerful is to experience that eternality for yourself! What’s transformative is to start meditating and slowing down the mind so you can find out for yourself that who you truly are is beyond the mind and the body, is eternal and is good.
Everyone at their core is made of this light. Both the best person and the worst person have this light at their core. What this means for you is that this light is inside you and available to you all the time, but you have to slow down your mind to be able to see it. So, yes again, meditate!
It’s a personal choice to be happy. Everyone has a high, happy side and a low, bored, angry or depressed side, and which side you live in is determined by the choices you make. The choices that lead to happiness are the ones that challenge us, awaken us, and keep us balanced—they are the choices to meditate and work-out when you’d rather watch TV; to be mindful when you’d rather obsess on something negative; to work on your career when it seems easier to just hang out where you are; and, also the choice to relax and unwind when you know you need that, but want to stay plugged in.
The choices that lead to happiness are the ones that take care of the things that are your responsibility—and just as important, the choices to not take on things that are not your responsibility. On a daily basis, we are presented with numerous choices, both simple and complex, that lead us to either more happiness or less. When you become the person who makes the higher choice by default, you will absolutely feel happier. The good news is that meditation increases your powers of discrimination and will, so it’s easier to both discern the higher choice and follow it.
Of course, many of the physical circumstances of our lives are beyond our control, but even in these situations there is a choice to be happy. When you get caught in a major traffic delay, you can bemoan your fate which magnifies the misery of the situation, or you can keep on hand great audio books, podcasts and music to entertain yourself while you are trapped in your car. In more dire situations, like finding out your partner cheated on you or that you have been diagnosed with cancer, there is still an opportunity to be happy. Stick with me for a moment on this one. Sometimes the most painful situations in life can act as a catalyst to finally get us to really stop thought, go into our inner light and experience that we are not who we think we are—to see that we’re made of light and are eternal. This is the happiest of all experiences. When everything is going our way, we tend to not be very introspective. But in truly unpleasant times, in our disillusionment with how we thought our life would go, there is an opening to experience something deeper. So even amidst the crappiest situation, there is a choice to indulge in the difficulties of your life or an option to go deeper into the quiet and deeper into your soul where true happiness resides. True happiness isn’t about everything working out your way. It’s really about being in touch with your inner light.
When you begin meditating, the most important thing is to establish a daily practice—you need to focus on just showing up and doing it! Once you are meditating on a regular basis, then the focus shifts to meditating correctly.
You won’t experience the benefits of meditation if you just space out and let your mind wander. In order to meditate correctly, it’s important to not think about other people or talk to other people in your mind. Don’t work on your to-do list or ruminate on projects at work or school. Instead, when you notice you are thinking, simply bring your focus back to the area of focus (chakra, breath, mantra or yantra). Don’t fight the thought or get frustrated that you are thinking—be patient with yourself and just return your mind to the area of focus.
Also keep in mind that a shorter, completely focused meditation is more effective than a longer, spaced-out one.